Book Review: Too Long in the Bush by Len Beadell

Why the strange interest in road-making in Australia? Well, over the Christmas holidays I read through the entire Gray Nomad Chronicles. I was curious to hear about the adventures of Len Beadell, so I managed to find a copy of his book.

Having never (yet) been to Australia, I can’t fathom what the heat must have been like. Several points in the book temperatures are mentioned – usually in excess of 100 degrees Fahrenheit – even exceeding 150 degrees. The warmest temperatures I have ever experienced were maybe close to 110 degrees, and that was on a holiday. I can’t imagine what it would have been like.

The book itself is quite interesting, if you like to read about exploring hot, dry, sandy deserts. The book itself wasn’t sad, but there was something that made me sad reading it – knowing that because of the much smaller technological world we live in, these sorts of experiences would likely never be repeated. Far too often we are only a phone call away from getting out of trouble. Mobile phone coverage areas keep getting larger and larger, and the life saving survival skills of society are not being taught as they once were – by experience. There are fewer and fewer areas of the world where the kind of adventure that Len and his crew experienced can be had.

Reading this book gave me an appreciation for the work that it must have taken the early pioneers of my own country to build roads and rail lines, find workable mountain passes, and push through were seldom a foot had trod before. It did inspire in me a sense of adventure. Now, more than ever, I want to get out and see more of what is left of the wild world.

It also gave me a greater appreciation for those people that I have been camping with that were always upbeat despite some interesting circumstances. I recall one Scout camp where one of the leaders realized that half of our food had been left in the back of a van. At this point it was getting dark, and we had already canoed half-way down the river we were on. Despite this, he managed to find his way back through the bush to the van, find the missing food items, and bring them back to camp in the dark. In the morning it was realized that we had forgot butter (or any form of oil for that matter) to use in a frying pan to prevent pancakes from sticking. Somehow this leader just managed to make things work. He did what he could with what he had, and the result was a bunch of happy campers. Being happy no matter circumstances is an amazing trait. I have the utmost appreciation and respect for those people that have it, and it is something that I have been trying to work on myself.

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